The Rural Trilogy: Blood Wedding, Yerma, and The House of Bernarda Alba , by Federico Garcia Lorca; translated by Michael Dewell and Carmen Zapata; introduction by Douglas Day (Bantam, $8.95). Lorca's three great folk tragedies -- concerning women, honor, frustration and violence -- were completed by 1936, shortly before he was assassinated, at the peak of his powers. This new translation of the plays, worked out with the cooperation of bilingual actors, echoes methods of the master himself, who somewhat distrusted words, particularly when written. Lorca considered himself a minstrel and often chanted his poems and plays to friends, accompanying himself on guitar or moving about an imaginary stage.
!Click Song , by John A. Williams (Thunder's Mouth Press, $9.95). This novel about writers and the writing life opens with a suicide. The dead man, Paul Kaminsky, was a writer and a friend of the hero of the novel, Cato Caldwell Douglass. Kaminsky's death becomes the catalyst that forces Douglass to reconsider his life and his craft and the relationships with those he loves -- his wife and his children, among them the Spanish-born son he knows of but has never met.
Blueschild Baby , by George Cain (The Ecco Press, $7.50). First published in 1970, this is the story of a young black man torn by the seemingly irreconcilable facts of his life. A gifted athlete, he has a basketball scholarship to college. But while he cannot cope with the strangeness of that world, neither can he cope with life in the ghetto. This inability to reconcile the different aspects of his life is the beginning of a long odyssey of self-discovery, a voyage that leads ultimately to wholeness.
Vidal in Venice , by Gore Vidal; photographs by Tore Gill (Summit, $14.95). It's hard to imagine Gore Vidal being overshadowed by anyone, let alone some pictures, but that's what happens in this Venetian venture. With the possible exception of Paris, Venice is the most romantic, most dazzling city in the world, less a place than a vision, a floating world of museums, cafes, churches, and shimmering romance. Vidal is at his best when he can exercise his well-known wit and irony, but Venice -- despite its crowds of tourists -- calls forth affection and concern. Even its history, replete with government intrigue and empire-building, only draws out the most mild cynicism. Of course, Vidal is always a pleasure to read, but anyone who really wants to learn about this bejeweled Adriatic beauty should look to the classic books of Jan Morris, John Julius Norwich and Hugh Honour.
The Hornes: An American Family , by Gail Lumet Buckley (NAL Plume, $8.95) Though actress and singer Lena Horne is the best-known member, the Hornes are a family with a long, illustrious history. In this volume, Gail Lumet Buckley, Lena Horne's daughter, begins in 1777 with her great-great-great-great-grandmother and ends with her hopes for her own two daughters. In between, we meet the Hornes -- among them a slave who bought her freedom, a prominent businessman, an early advocate of women's rights, a poet and a doctor. "It took me a very long time to 'recognize' either my blackness or my American-ness," Buckley writes. "Writing this book gave me the gift of both."
U.S. Marines in Grenada 1983 , by Ronald H. Spector (Goverment Printing Office, $2.25). The Leathernecks embarked aboard aboard USS Guam in October 1983 thought they were going to Lebanon; instead, on Oct. 25, they were awakened at 1 a.m., loaded onto helicopters and landed in half-darkness, without maps, onto completely unfamiliar terrain. This was Operation Urgent Fury, the American invasion of the Caribbean island of Grenada, and here is the lively official history of the Marine side of that campaign (the Army was meanwhile seizing other parts of the island). Against tepid opposition and despite serious communications deficiencies, the Marines seized their objectives with traditional dash and self-assurance, the helicopter pilots in particular showing great verve. A footnote: what film did the troops watch the night before the invasion?: Sands of Iwo Jima, with John Wayne.
Onassis: Aristotle and Christina , by L.J. Davis (St. Martin's, $4.50) This unauthorized biography of the legendary shipping tycoon and his daughter is an excellent case of fact stranger than fiction. L.J. Davis provides chilling scenes from their extraordinary lives and those nearest them, including Christina's mother (Onassis, a neglectful father and husband, once deliberately burned her with a cigar) and Christina's stepmother, Jackie Kennedy. Christina, best known for her marriages, divorces and affairs, came into her own following her father's death, managing to wrest control of her inheritance, to skillfully dismantle the restrictions her father, in his will, had placed on her participation in the shipping business, and to become the successful director of the family enterprises.
Colloquium on Crime , edited by Robin W. Winks (Scribners, $9.95). Since Jacques Barzun writes only rarely now and Julian Symons is indisputably English, Robin W. Winks reigns easily as the leading American expert on mysteries and thrillers. In this collection he asked 11 of his favorite authors to write about themselves and their craft. The pseudonymous K.C. Constantine describes the genesis of his police chief Mario Balzic and the working-class Pennsylvania town of Rocksburg; it is a brilliant essay on the making of a writer. Robert Barnard talks about his passion for Christie and comedy; Joseph Hansen looks at his series about the gay detective Dave Brandstetter; Donald Hamilton -- creator of Matt Helm -- makes clear that he is a professional of the highest calibre; Tony Hillerman reflects on his native American policemen; and Robert B. Parker describes the work habits behind the Spenser novels.
A Talent to Deceive: An Appreciation of Agatha Christie , by Robert Barnard (Mysterious Library, $8.95). It's still fashionable to denigrate Agatha Christie, to point out that she's no stylist, that her characters are cardboard, that the plots are clockwork marvels of improbability. Barnard agrees that all this is true, but argues that none of it matters. Christie is a tale-teller, not a novelist, and her appeal lies in the roots of narrative, in fable, myth and fireside storytelling. As a practitioner of the mystery himself, Barnard brings special authority to his judgments, as well as a readable and engaging style. Readers should be warned, however, that he reveals the outcomes of several classic stories.